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AR Experience by Rose Digital Helps Us Visualize Campaign Spending

Pay to Play is an AR experience that conceptualizes how expensive it is to run for president.


Campaign finance continues to be at the forefront of American’s minds, especially after the latest Democratic primary. Michael Bloomberg’s self-funded run for president raised a lot of questions about what money should and shouldn’t buy you in political races. In contrast, it also raised questions about institutional politicians and the way their campaigns are funded with PAC money and big donations.

Visualizing what half-a-billion dollars looks like is difficult, and in order to better understand the immensity of campaign spending, Rose Digital deployed augmented reality. Pay to Play  AR experience was created to showcase the disconnect between the fiscal impact of campaign spending and the needs of Americans.

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Rose Digital works with groups like Adidas, Airbnb, and American Express. Company’s most recent project is a mobile-web app made with 8th Wall, and the innovative platform for making WebAR experiences was also involved in the Adidas project along with many others. In fact, almost a dozen of the apps and experiences up for the Auggies this year are powered by 8th Wall. This time, Rose Digital used 8th Wall to contextualize campaign spending by comparing those funds to American infrastructure projects.

Pay to Play AR Experience

Users can select from seven 2020 Democratic presidential candidates or seven 2016 Republican candidates and see their campaign spending turned into “common good items,” such as apples to represent how many teacher salaries those funds could have covered. Other items include paid maternity leave, renewable energy, student debt, repiping Flint, and hospital ventilators.

AR experience Pay to Play by Rose Digital

“We began thinking about a way to contextualize the immensity of campaign spending through the language we speak best — technology,” Rose Digital Junior Art Director Nicole Riemer wrote in a Medium article announcing the experience. “Those conversations and the desire to use technology to answer that question was the origin of Pay to Play.

Riemer was one of three Rose Digital staff members that worked on the project and was primarily responsible for art direction and user experience. Junior Engineer Eric Liang also contributed to user experience design and development. The initial concept and strategy came from Vice President of Business Development Jordan Long. The team worked for about three weeks putting the app together.

Bringing It All Together

The presidential campaign cost information came straight from the United States Federal Election Commission. Wrangling data on the cost of the common good items was a little more difficult, so the team gathered data from a wide variety of sources including TIME, CNBC, and The New York Times.

“We designed this experience to contextualize the money that is spent in politics with the impact it could have if spent elsewhere,” Long told ARPost. “Often we see staggering numbers released in terms of campaign spending, and also witness government shutdowns and delays in public support of infrastructure projects due to the massive costs. We wanted to show both the difference and the correlation between what people spend when running for office and the way money is talked about by elected politicians.”

See For Yourself

If you want to better understand campaign finance, or are curious about using AR to visualize big data sets, check out Rose Digital’s latest AR experience (you can also scan the QR code below). It’s educational, it’s free, and it’s easy to use.

QR code Pay to Play by Rose Digital


Ashley Nelson
the authorAshley Nelson
Ashley Nelson is a NYC-based business journalist, copywriter, and photo-journalist. Ashley has a Public Affairs Journalism degree from The Ohio State University.